We polled our writers on their top books of 2018. It soon became clear trying to sift them into some sort of meaningful chart wasn’t going to work. Instead, here’s a selection of those that would have been near the top, together with excerpts from the original reviews. Happy reading!

Matt Haig – How To Stop Time

“Sometimes an author comes along who completely encapsulates the feelings of society at a particular time. Matt Haig is that author. He has quickly established himself as a household name for his bestselling Reasons to Stay Alive and has a host of fiction novels which touch on issues relevant to our hectic lives and our mental health.

In How to Stop Time Haig explores why we should try and appreciate the present moment rather than always looking to the past for answers or racing towards our unknown futures. Protagonist of the story, Tom Hazard, understands this more than most having been alive for centuries and having lived many different lives in that time.

It is heart-warming, beautifully written, and will teach you some important lessons about appreciation and being in the moment.”

Aisling McGuire’s review from January

Christina Neuwirth – Amphibian

Christina Neuwirth’s debut novella Amphibian starts off chronicling the very regular life of Rose Ellis, who works in a company that sells Bonds and Promises. One day, she turns up to work to find that her floor at work has started to flood, all in a bid to boost employee morale and increase sales and productivity. What follows is a hilarious take on the perils of corporate life – from the ridiculous decisions that management take, to the regular banality from colleagues, and the pure apathy towards corporate jargon.

This book does limit itself slightly in terms of the people who can appreciate it, as those without a similar corporate background might not clock all the nuances. But those who do will find this a thoroughly delightful, intelligent, and hilarious read.”

Udita Banerjee’s review from October

Alastair McIntosh – Poacher’s Pilgrimage

“On a twelve-day quest to explore his childhood island of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, the author Alastair McIntosh seeks to further understand ‘god, war, and the faeries’.

McIntosh’s latest book is travel writing at its best, writing that digs below the surface, tugging out something greater – something within all of us – curiosity explored. The book manages to handle complex subjects well and without losing the reader’s interest. It is often funny and enlightening.

Throughout the book, McIntosh uses beautiful poetry to further encapsulate what it means to be a part of the island culture, adding great emotion to the work. This use of poetry is mirrored with a vibrant use of poetic language that makes the Outer Hebrides come to life.”

Clay Winowiecki’s review from March

Christine Marendon (tr: Ken Cockburn) – Heroines From Abroad

“Heroines From Abroad is Christine Marendon’s first collection. Published by Carcanet Press, it is half-and-half German/English. The new translation by Edinburgh based poet Ken Cockburn launched at Lighthouse Books.

Raised in Bavaria and currently living in Hamburg, Marendon has a personal and individual approach: ‘I meditate and try to think of nothing. I don’t read other poets when I am writing. In this act of forgetting you find things you usually do not find; hear something you otherwise won’t hear.’ With a distinctively female voice, there is a dreamy, Dali-esque quality, where apparently unconnected images circle around each other and leave the reader to make connections, to recognise something deep inside themselves.”

Tamsin Grainger’s review from July